Brendan Cronin Final Paper Rough Draft
Lynn S. Clark
Intro to Media and Culture
22 February 2011
Global Warming: Real or Hoax?
Global warming is an increase in the earth’s average atmospheric temperature that causes corresponding changes in climate and that may result from the greenhouse effect (Dictionary.com). It is an extremely interesting topic today, mostly because it is a theory, and many people claim that it is not true. There are many opinions on the matter, but at the end of the day it is the evidence and the data that matters the most.
I examined an article by Dave Gahary on the American Free Press website, which had the title of “Global Warming A Hoax.” It started out by saying that global warming extremists are trying to take away important things, such as banning a vacation by car, lighting a campfire and drinking bottled water. He goes on to claim that Grant R. Jeffrey, author of The Global Warming Deception: How a Secret Elite Plans to Bankrupt America and Steal Your Freedom, has gathered enough research over the course of five years to call the environmental extremists’ claims “the greatest fraud in the history of science.”http://www.americanfreepress.net/html/global_warming_a_hoax_258.html His claims go on to counter those of Al Gore and the IPCC, two of the biggest promoters of the theory. According to Jeffrey, global temperatures have been cooling down from 1998 to the present, reversing most of the temperature gains of the last 150 years. His book is 189 pages of making controversial claims, especially that global warming is “the greatest threat to our nation and our basic liberties and freedom, as well as our standard of living.”
Dave Gahary continues to use only Grant Jeffrey’s research as evidence, which makes it seem like his evidence is very one-sided. He says that Jeffrey showed that carbon dioxide “is not only a necessary component of plant and animal life, and therefore human existence, but is a trace gas whose concentration in the atmosphere is almost negligible.”http://www.americanfreepress.net/html/global_warming_a_hoax_258.html He says the atmosphere has only one percent trace gas, of which carbon dioxide makes up .0391 percent of that one percent; and man’s contribution to that tiny amount is just 3 percent of the .0391 percent. Finally, he says that “ocean levels have actually been decreasing and not rising, contrary to global warming forecasters,” and that increases in carbon dioxide levels lag 800 years behind temperature rises and hence cannot cause them.
Dave Gahary is definitely framing this article to make it seem like if these global warming folks get their way we will not be able to take long car trips in their Hummers. Framing an article is the notion that every story is told in a particular way that influences how readers think of the story (Converging Media, Pavlik / McIntosh). He uses one source whose validity is not known, and it definitely looks like it is a biased report on global warming when the majority of other sources have scientific evidence as to how global warming is true. He wants to get the audience on board by saying that Carbon Dioxide is important, and that if we let global warming activists take over then we risk our freedom and standard of living. Gahary uses phrases like “definitely proves” to get the audience to agree with him, and believe that global warming is a myth. He is framing his argument in ways that seem legitimate, and makes those who too want to believe that global warming is not happening. He wants to make it seem like we are not responsible for global warming, and that it is a natural process that will not harm our planet for many more years to come. He wants to make us feel better about ourselves this way, when we should be taking responsibility for our actions and making changes to prevent catastrophic climate change events.
After hearing all of these radical claims, I had to check more mainstream sources to see if American Free Press was not a valid website, or if it was just Dave Gahary’s article that was so far out there. I was not too surprised to find several articles on CNN.com that completely disagreed with the other article, and claimed that the process of global warming is actually speeding up. CNN was founded in 1980 by Ted Turner, and was the first all-news television channel in the US. It is mainly broadcasted from Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, but publishes articles on their website daily. The first article was by Manav Tanneeru, which told the story of explorer Dennis Schmitt, who found an island over four years ago that was originally thought to be a peninsula attached by a glacier, but so much ice had melted that revealed the island. Schmitt then realized two things: “One was that this was going to be significant because it was going to be example of climate change. The other thing was that it meant it was really happening. It wasn’t a joke. It wasn’t just statistics. It was really happening.” This article may have been framed to look as if we are definitely responsible for this ice melting, however it seems like it might be true because the evidence is quite clear here. http://edition.cnn.com/2007/TECH/science/07/11/globalwarming.overview/index.html
According to the EPA, the average surface temperature has warmed one degree Fahrenheit, or .6 degrees Celsius in the last century. Another article on CNN I found said that evidence of man-made warming has increased over the year. The UK’s Met Office Hadley Center brought together evidence from over twenty institutions – including NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center and NASA – through taking data from satellites, weather balloons, ships and ocean buoys, all of which helped show that humans are responsible for global warming. There were increases in sea-water temperature, higher levels of humidity, rising sea levels as land-ice melts, and shrinking glaciers and Arctic sea-ice. Although all this data was collected, since the end of the 1970’s, the rate of surface temperature warming has risen .16 degrees Celsius per decade, on average, according to the Met Office. However, from 2000 to 2009 that decreased to between .05 and.13 degrees Celsius, despite carbon dioxide emissions continuing to rise. Met Office backs this up by saying that “a decrease in the warming rate is frequently seen in climate model predictions.” This article may be framed to make people feel better about the average temperature decreasing, but in the end it still tries to prove that global warming is still taking place, and that it is normal for a temperature to fluctuate. This too seems like a valid source, as it gives better evidence than the American Free Press source. http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/11/26/world.warming.metoffice.report/index.html
Although in the past few years we have been doing a better job at being “green,” another CNN article by Matthew Knight claims that a rise in global temperatures of four degrees Celsius will likely occur during the 21st century, if greenhouse gas emissions continue rising at the current rate. Kevin Anderson, co-editor of “Four Degrees and Beyond,” says that, “Emissions are going in completely the wrong direction. A rise of two degrees Celsius is much more challenging than is widely accepted.” http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/11/29/climate.four.degrees.warning/index.html If these theories are correct, then sea levels could rise two meters by the end of the century, displacing around 2.5 percent of the world’s population. Anderson says that the skeptics will continue to question the validity of climate predictions, but goes on to say that, “What we do know, with a high degree of certainty, is that emissions are going up and we know the sorts of rates they are going up at. Unless we see some significant changes we are going to see some much higher temperatures.” This article is framed to make people scared about the effects of burning fossil fuels, and uses scare tactics to make people want to make a change.
Finally, a more op-ed article by Kumi Naidoo of CNN talked about how he was recently in Amsterdam and found the city covered in snow. He says that climate-change skeptics have been using freakishly cold weather and amounts of snow as evidence that our planet is not heating up. However, this ignores NASA’s analysis of 2010 as the warmest year on record, and the World Meteorological Organization’s pronouncement that the first decade of this century is the hottest since records began. Naidoo wants to emphasize that global warming does not mean that temperatures are always climbing, but that our planet is steadily heating up, and that a delicate set of climatic imbalances creates an increase in extreme weather events: such as intense heat spells and powerful snowstorms. http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/12/29/naidoo.climate.weather/index.html This means we must inform people who are not yet concerned about the issue, and we must dramatically curb greenhouse gas emissions if we are to avoid a catastrophic climate change. This article is framed to make people believe that just because we see winter storms and colder weather, it does not mean that we should believe that global warming is a hoax. Although this is more of an op-ed article, it is true that if we just go by what the weather is physically doing, then we may misconstrue the situation and believe that global warming is not happening, when in fact other evidence shows that it is.
Some of Naidoo’s claims were made clear in a Newsweek article, titled “Is Global Warming Responsible for Wild Weather,” by Noreen Malone. Newsweek started in 1933 in New York City, and is the second largest news weekly magazine in the US, after Time Magazine. She talks about how this has been a year of unusual weather, with tornadoes in Brooklyn, NY, record cold temperatures in the northern hemisphere with heavy snowfall, record heat in the South, heavy snowfall in Seoul, South Korea, torrential rainfall in Australia, Pakistan and Brazil, and unusual winter freezes which threatened citrus crops in Florida. Not to mention the past few summers being a scorcher for much of the US. Global warming is not just about hotter summers, but everything from change in rain patterns and wind direction due to change in the ocean temperatures and sea levels. However, heavy snows from last winter were a result of two large colliding weather fronts – probably just natural aberration, rather than a sign of climate change. A tornado in Brooklyn is definitely bizarre, but cannot be blamed on global warming. The floods in Pakistan cannot be blamed on global warming, but as the world does heat up, it’s more likely that heavy precipitation like that will continue to increase in frequency and numbers. At last, she states: “The broader lesson seems to be that even if science hasn’t yet formally connected all the dots on climate change, we should expect the unexpected.” http://www.newsweek.com/2010/11/09/the-truth-behind-wild-weather-and-global-warming.html# Like the last source, this article frames that while there is a lot of evidence behind climate change, there is a lot we do not know. That is why we must plan for the worst and be prepared for anything.
It is hard to compare this article to others from American Free Press, because they have not talked about global warming like this before, so it is difficult to see if it is just the author framing the story or that the website as a whole does not believe in global warming. After analyzing all these articles, the question still remains: was Dave Gahary right at all, or was this alternative media source way more off on their research than they thought? At the end of the day, it all comes down to having concrete evidence. Without thorough research and data collected, global warming may be more of a matter of opinion than anything. But when the facts are all there, and there is evidence that shows us that the Earth is, indeed increasing its temperature and raising its sea levels, then that seems like the more valid option. It seems like Gahary only used one source to base his entire argument, and was probably extremely biased in his claims. When most other articles use more than one source as evidence and are not as one-sided, more information is given, and it seems like a much more valid point. Framing an article can make people think something that is not true, and it is easy to believe what we read when we do not know enough about the topic. In the end, the scientific consensus is that climate change is a reality worthy of concern, and this frame made by mainstream sources is better because it is more valid and supported by more data. It is important to analyze sources thoroughly and determine whether or not the article is based on evidence or opinion, and in this case the mainstream media had more valid information than the article by Gahary.
Gahary, Dave. “GLOBAL WARMING A HOAX.” American Free Press Newspaper. 21 Feb. 2011. Web. 22 Feb. 2011. <http://www.americanfreepress.net/html/global_warming_a_hoax_258.html>
Knight, Matthew. “Case for Man-made Warming Increased in 2010, Scientists Say – CNN.com.” 27 Nov. 2010. Web. 22 Feb. 2011. <http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/11/26/world.warming.metoffice.report/index.html>
Knight, Matthew. “Current Emissions Risk ‘devastating’ Temperature Rise, Scientists Warn – CNN.com.” 29 Nov. 2011. Web. 22 Feb. 2011. <http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/11/29/climate.four.degrees.warning/index.html>
Manav Tanneeru. “Global Warming: A Natural Cycle or Human Result? – CNN.com.” 8 Apr. 2008. Web. 22 Feb. 2011. http://edition.cnn.com/2007/TECH/science/07/11/globalwarming.overview/index.html
Naidoo, Kumi. “Why Even Skeptics Should Tackle Climate Change – CNN.com.” 30 Dec. 2010. Web. 22 Feb. 2011. http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/12/29/naidoo.climate.weather/index.html
Malone, Noreen. “The Truth Behind Wild Weather and Global Warming – Newsweek. 9 Nov. 2010. Web. 22 Feb. 2011. <http://www.newsweek.com/2010/11/09/the-truth-behind-wild-weather-and-global-warming.html#>.